You Might Want To Sit Down Before Reading This

Especially if you have a bad back

What you need to know
  • New study debunks the myth that sitting causes back pain
  • But, back pain is still very much a factor for other diseases

For years we’ve been warned by the medical community about the impacts having a sedentary lifestyle can have on our health. Sitting down too much can increase your risk of chronic health problems including heart disease, diabetes and even some cancer, and has also been linked to poor mental health.

But, there’s now one less thing we can blame our chairs for – back pain. Researchers at Deakin university have debunked the myth that sitting down too much is a cause of back pain, absolving the chair of its role in what can be a debilitating condition for some workers.

Until now, it’s been widely believed that working a desk job that involved long hours remaining seated was a cause of lower back pain. But, a study led by researchers at Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) analysed data from more than one million subjects collected over three decades and could not establish a causal link.

“Despite a growing body of evidence linking sitting to other negative health effects, when it comes to back pain, sitting does not appear to be a risk factor,” IPAN Associate Professor of Exercise and Musculoskeletal Health Daniel Belavy told the Geelong Advertiser. “So while you may get muscle tightness when you sit for a long time, sitting itself doesn’t actually damage the spinal structures.”

Which is fantastic news for this writer, because I’ve been sitting down while writing this article for the last 72 hours straight with no breaks, and I was starting to get a bit worried that this could be bad for my health. I also really need to go to the bathroom.

“For those under 50, back pain causes the greatest loss of productivity of all diseases in Australia, and 16% of Australians will develop persistent back pain at some point in life,” Associate Professor Belavy says.

Though we can rule out sitting as a cause for back pain, it’s still very much a cause in so many other conditions, so I reckon I might go get a coffee now and stretch my legs.